Category Archives: Other Games

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (August 7, 2014)

Guild Wars 2 Bookahneer's GeekwatchWelcome to today’s Bookahneer’s Geekwatch and the first Geekwatch in 2014! The place about miscellaneous interesting news related to Guild Wars 2 – and on occasion, other games.

If you have thought about trying out Trove in their alpha, but thought that paying 18.99€ for a game that you have not been able to try out first, then this deal may interest you: From now until August 10, you get alpha access for spending 4.99€. What’s especially nice about this deal is that you will get almost every of the milestones you can see listed on that page. You can read my first impressions here on the blog. My opinion about the game hasn’t changed since then and I do not regret spending money on it despite having free alpha access. If you need more information, have a look at gameplay videos on YouTube or Twitch. There is no NDA on Trove. :) If you still don’t want to spend any money on it, then watch their Reddit page, as they apparently always include a multi-use alpha key with their patch notes.

Rift has had another patch which revamped the auction house interface. For the most part, I love it! It now shows you suggestions for prices based on the sale history of items. This is a great feature, if you ask me, especially for players who do not “play the auction house” regularly and spend hours memorizing prices they have seen for various items. Unfortunately, they also increased the fee you pay for listing items. Artifacts used to be very cheap with a flat amount (I think it was based on a low percentage of the vendor price) you paid for listing them, but now it’s always based on how much gold you’re asking for. On the other hand, at least they will increase the time the items will be listed to 7 days. I always found 48 hours as the maximum amount to be much too short. For more information, this blog post may be useful.

And the last bit of news today – isn’t about Guild Wars 2 either. I wrote about that game yesterday already. :p No, the last bit of information is that WordPress has released a new feature last night. You can now “like” comments. For existing blogs, this feature is automatically disabled, so you need to manually enable it if you want your readers to be able to like comments. I have done so. So, if you’re ever here and see a comment that you like, feel free to hit that button!

First impressions: Trove

Trove Alpha Screenshot

The path up the trees leads to a boss.

A few days ago, I was idling for a bit before it was time to leave and catch my bus to the doctor’s office. I had decided to check Twitter and saw a tweet by mmorpg.com which had been posted a few hours earlier announcing that they were giving away Trove Alpha Keys. Not really believing in my luck, I still went there to check if any keys were left and actually got one! I immediately made bookahnerk aware of it, so he could get one as well.

I have spent quite a few hours playing Trove now and – as a tl;dr version of what my first impression is: I also now spent 18,99€ on the adventurer pack, so obviously, I enjoyed my time playing the game enough to give them some of my money.

As usual, this “review” has “first impressions” written in front of it. It is going to be subjective and about my experiences within the first few hours of playing this game. Read the following post accordingly, please.

Trove is a sandbox game currently in alpha which will be free to play once it gets released. I haven’t followed it too closely lately, so I’m not sure which features will still be added in the future. I do remember that when Trion Worlds first announced the game, people called it a Cube World clone. I had never heard about Cube World, but it does sound like it belongs to the genre of Minecraft and Terraria – as does Trove now. As far as I can tell, Cube World is more about adventuring (and questing as the developer has added or is adding a questing system to the game) and not so much about crafting, creating and collecting resources. In Trove, you do adventure, kill mobs and collect better items to advance to more dangerous areas, but you’re also collecting various resources and will probably spend quite some time crafting, most of all items for your homeworld and your cornerstone – more on that later. Let’s just say: Trove has got housing! :D

After installing and launching the client, I had to name my character (“Paeroka” in case anybody wants to add me to their friends list) and that was all there was to the character creation. Off my little (male-looking) avatar went into the tutorial hub. This is just a very small region which introduces you to the very basics of the game like moving, switching between adventure and building mode, etc. After leaving the tutorial, I got thrown into another hub where I quickly found a barber shop. Here, I could finally change my look and make Paeroka female – as female as it gets with those avatars – with reddish hair and green eyes as most of my main characters have.

Trove Alpha Screenshot

The class changer with the three classes currently in the game.

I had automatically become a Knight, but I knew the game has more classes than that. In fact, three are released already and there will be more. A quick internet search told me that I can change classes in the hub and that the Gunslinger is free now (this was added with a patch which also hints at how they’re handling classes in the future: Some will be free, some will require a purchase) while the Fae Trickster costs something (in-game currency or credits which are bought with real money). When I had created my character, I actually got some in-game currency. I am not sure if that is something like a daily login bonus or what triggers it. However, you can also earn more of this currency by playing the game and defeating bosses. I decided not to save the in-game currency for the Fae Trickster and bought myself a mount instead. After that, I rode through the hub to finally find the class changer. One click and I was a Gunslinger! You level each class separately, by the way. I got the Gunslinger to level 5 at which point bookahnerk suggested I should try the Knight because that’s usually what I enjoy more than a ranged class (but the dual pistols of the Gunslinger are quite awesome!). The Knight was still level 1 and she is now level 6. The current maximum level in the alpha is level 20 for each class, so I still have quite some content ahead of me.

Speaking of content: What is there to do in Trove? You start in a central hub where you and other players gather. From there, you can take one of several portals to the adventuring world. Those are divided into level brackets. You can go to a world that is higher than your level, but mobs will hurt you a lot more than if you were even level.

Once in such a zone, you can stroll through the world and will probably get attacked by mobs that roam around in the world. All mobs are hostile. There are no quests, but something like “events” in some areas. Sometimes, those are bosses, sometimes, those are waves of mobs spawning to attack you after you started the event. Some of these events have something like jumping puzzles to get to them. Nothing has been very challenging so far, but I’ve only gotten to level 6, after all. Bosses drop chests which give you loot (equipment) which makes your character stronger. Standard mobs can also drop such loot but this is rarer.

Altogether, you can roam the world to farm bosses and earn XP and loot to advance in levels and get stronger. However, the other part of Trove is what I enjoy much more: There are resources in the world. Some are, for example, tree stumps or mushrooms that you destroy to gather the resources. Then there is also ore. You need different kinds of ore to craft different items. And most of the world can be destroyed as well. It mostly consists of cubes which you can collect and use for building yourself.

Trove Alpha Screenshot

This was the way my cornerstone looked before I destroyed the building on it. The glowy thing on the left lets you refill your healing potion.

When I first started playing, I found a cornerstone. If nobody else has claimed it, a simple click on “E” on your keyboard claims it for you. You can have one cornerstone in the world. It is basically a tiny piece of land that you can build on. It can also host different useful things like the healing potion refiller (your healing potion has 15 charges and can be refilled for free here). I had claimed a piece and then gotten attacked by a mob. I realized that there were two or three mob spawns right next to the cornerstone and I didn’t even have a calm minute before another of them showed up and attacked me. I was a bit upset because I hadn’t seen how I could switch the cornerstone yet. So, I left it and went to explore the world. The further away from it I got, the less I remembered where it actually was. So at that point, I wasn’t just disappointed about the location, I also had no idea where the location actually was (it shows up on your map, by the way. I’d just been too blind to see it!). However, by now I know that a cornerstone is not meant for you to claim a specific location in the world. You can do that, I guess, but that’s not using the cornerstone to its full potential.

There are lots of places in the world and in the different zones where you find empty cornerstones. As soon as you find one, you can click “E” and the cornerstone moves from the previous position to the current position. A cornerstone can house, as mentioned above, the healing potion refiller (handy to have in the world out there, right? ^^), crafting stations, a box where you can store some items, or even a crafted item that lets you destroy looted items (you can’t sell them anywhere but you can destroy them to get a resource that you need to upgrade your items). So, the cornerstone basically follows you wherever you go and lets you conveniently do whatever you want to do – as long as you have crafted the respective stations and put them on your cornerstone. You can also build on it, of course! And if you happen to die, you will get resurrected at your cornerstone (or the starting point for that world if you haven’t claimed a cornerstone).

Trove Alpha Screenshot

A small part of my homeworld where I’ve started building a modest little house (with a garden, at least).

One bad thing is that the cornerstone is tiny. Your homeworld, on the other hand, is pretty big! And that’s where you can build to your heart’s content. But first, you need to build your homeworld portal which creates your homeworld. After that, you can jump to it from anywhere in the world (the homeworld is an instanced area). Since the cubes are pretty big, placing items in your homeworld isn’t rocket science (oh, the amount of rage items in Rift have already caused when I wasn’t able to align them properly …). One may argue that the graphics are ugly, too blocky or whatever. I guess this is a case of “either you like it, or you don’t”. I like the graphics and I think they’ve got a certain charm. It works for games like this one.

As mentioned above, I bought a supporter pack now. I like knowing that I support the development and that I spent about the same amount of money that I would have spent on the game had it not been “free to play”. It is not a required purchase, of course. The things I got as bonus items are things like a pet or cosmetic items. It doesn’t look like I’ll get anything that’ll give me an advantage and I hope that this is where the shop will also go. No f2p without an item shop, right? ;) At the moment, the shop mostly has mounts, pets and the Fae Trickster class (for credits or in-game currency) available. But the Knight and the Gunslinger are free, so you do not have to spend money on it.

So far, I would say that if you don’t mind the graphics and enjoy gathering resources, crafting and building on your homeworld, then Trove is a game to check out. If you’re into challenging fights, collecting items to make your character stronger, etc. – then I’m not sure if you’ll have tons of fun in the game or not, because I haven’t seen enough of the bosses yet to judge that part of the game properly. ;) One thing I do not like is that apparently, you don’t have a wardrobe or a cosmetic item system where you can choose a certain look but wear other items for their stats. With the amount of funny looking items, I would have assumed they have such a system in place!

Since it’s in Alpha currently, you either have to sign up and hope you get an invitation or buy your way into it (it starts with 18,99€) – or, as in my case, be lucky to win a key in some giveaway. If you’re patient, you can also just wait for beta to start (5€ gets you a guaranteed spot in the beta – yes, unfortunately, it seems that the best and easiest way to get your hands on the game in alpha or beta is to spend money) or even wait for the game’s launch since joining the game will be absolutely free then! We will also know a lot more about which features will be in the finished game then. And, of course, the whole experience will be more bug-free than it is now. I haven’t encountered a lot or anything game-breaking, but still. It’s not yet a finished product and you notice that, of course.

Bookahneer’s Geekwatch (June 25, 2014)

Guild Wars 2 Bookahneer's GeekwatchWelcome to today’s Bookahneer’s Geekwatch and the first Geekwatch in 2014! The place about miscellaneous interesting news related to Guild Wars 2 – and on occasion, other games.

I’m going to take a quick break from our summer break to post, because there have been two quite cool announcements today. For one, we finally heard something “official” about the next Rift expansion. We have already gotten the new crafting profession (Dream Weaver) as well as the four new souls and the PvP dimensions. But as far as I know, we hadn’t yet heard the name of the new expansion or what the new content will be about. A new producer’s letter was released today: The expansion is called “Nightmare Tide” and the new content will be free. There will also be new equipment slots which you will have to unlock on a per character basis by playing the game. They also announced a “digital edition” of Nightmare Tide with no further details. It will unlock those equipment slots for your account immediately. We will see what this means exactly, I guess, how much it costs, how difficult or time-consuming the unlocking process will be in the game and so on. For now, I’ll remain excited about the fact that they did announce their expansion and gave it a name and even said that it will be here “this year”. Hey, you never know… ;)

Let’s switch over to Guild Wars 2. By now, the whole Maguuma trailer is old news, I assume. But that’s not the news piece that I meant anyway. Guild Wars 2 now has a tumblr account as well. I had already seen that account before today’s announcement, but I really like what they are planning to do with it. It is not just another page where they mirror their news posts, etc. Instead, they want to use it to promote fan art! The good thing about tumblr is that you can submit your work to them. So, you won’t have to wait and hope for anybody at ArenaNet to spot your creations. Point them at your art instead! If tumblr is totally your thing, by the way, we are mirroring all our posts over there. ;)

And now, let me go back to stressing over the upcoming move. If all goes well, we will have uninterrupted internet access, at least! :)

The excitement of getting an expansion

MMO shelfIf you’re following Rift, you may have noticed that they’re handling their second expansion, Plane of Water, differently than they did the previous one or than what other MMO developers are usually doing: Instead of giving you everything at once, they are giving us the expansion piece by piece. The reason they stated is that they don’t want their players to wait until every last thing is done and release all features together, but instead, they want to give us the features when they’re ready. The first part was a new crafting profession, Dream Weaving, together with new dimensions. The profession mainly makes items for your dimensions and it can also craft the keys for the new dimensions. The second part was the PvP dimensions feature which got released with the last patch.

The next part will be the four new souls (something like “skill trees” for the non-Rift players) which we were told would arrive some time in May (but not late May!). I’m excited about that, because it means my warrior will get a healing soul and bookahnerk’s mage will get a tank soul. So, we can be an unconventional healer/tank duo!

Don’t get me wrong, I think it is really great to get those features as soon as they are done. I am slowly levelling up Dream Weaving and others are creating their first PvP dimensions. It gives us something to do and I have had those short moments of excitement when logging on after a patch knowing there will be something new in the game. But at the same time, I am not sure I really prefer it over the “traditional expansions”.

I still clearly and fondly remember my very first MMO expansion: World of Warcraft’s Burning Crusade. Bookahnerk, his cousin, a friend and I drove to a city nearby for a midnight sale that a shop was having. We went out for dinner first, then went to that store. They had us wait in front and at first, I felt a bit silly. World of Warcraft was my first MMO and here we were, in front of a store, at night in cold January 2007, waiting for them to open the doors, so we can buy an expansion and it would be very late until we got back home. The employees of the store actually walked along the line and handed out free hot beverages (coffee at 11pm – smart idea! :p).

While waiting there, we started talking with some people behind us. As is usual, we first checked who played which faction (For the Horde!), then we talked about which servers we played on, which classes were our mains and so on. At some point, I had a look behind us as I had not paid attention to the line and I was shocked: The line that hadn’t looked too long in the beginning had grown huge. I had not been able to see the end of it. All those people were there only for one expansion? After they opened the doors, I think it took us 20 minutes until we finally got to buy our expansions.

After that, we still had about a one hour drive back home. I installed the expansion, downloaded another patch and created my blood elf mage at which point I fell into bed. But to be honest, it had not been about playing in the night. It had been about going there, meeting other players, and doing something with friends. This is something that I miss with the digital expansions only. But while it is a nice memory, this post isn’t about digital or physical expansions. It’s about the lack of an “all at once” expansion (or, in ArenaNet’s case, developers considering not doing an expansion at all).

The next morning, I was ready to get into the expansion. Finally! I did not even know where to start: Blood elf starting area with my mage or should I rather take my main character to the expansion region? Or did I actually want to make a short trip to Alliance side and see what the Draenei were all about? Did I want to check out the new crafting profession? There were so many things I wanted to see and check out! I felt the magic again that I had last experienced when I had first set foot into World of Warcraft. The feeling that I always get when I explore a new MMO for the first time.

And this is the reason why I’m sad that we’re not having this with Rift (and maybe Guild Wars 2 as well). As nice as it is getting expansion content piece by piece and not having to wait, it also takes away this magic moment of feeling like the game is brand new again.

Wildstar: First Impressions

Wildstar Beta Linya EngineerCarbine Studios lifted the NDA for Wildstar some days ago, so I can finally share my impressions about this game. This also includes screenshots with watermarks, so this is what you’ll see here. I have tried to include new ones which I took after they removed the watermarks, because the watermark is indeed very ugly. ;) But in quite a few of the screenshots (see the gallery at the end of this post), you can see the watermarks showing a number or my name. I’m sorry about that. Just ignore them! They’re also not of any special quality, etc. since the watermark made them looking good obsolete and I didn’t think I would get to actually show them to others. ;)

First things first, I would have loved to dedicate much more time to this game, but I couldn’t for various reasons. Also, a standard disclaimer: This is not a review and this is not going to be objective! It is about my “first impressions” of the game.

The TL;DR version is as follows: I really like the game. The music is awesome. The world is full of humour that made me smile and chuckle several times. The housing looks solid and like something I could be interested in for a long time. But, it comes with a monthly sub and since my RL job just gave me a great opportunity, I won’t have the time to be playing Guild Wars 2, Rift and Wildstar and thus, the one that costs the most is the one I won’t be playing.

Now for the longer version. When I first got into the closed beta, I actually wasn’t too enthusiastic about it. I had seen the videos that Carbine had published and had really liked the humour. I had read a bit about the game and while it looked “cute” (as in: comics graphics) and I loved the humour, it still did not seem like a game I would want to play on a regular basis. The longer I played in the beta, the more that changed. Now, when I say “the longer I played”, I do not mean that I got to any high levels. If you know how I play my MMOs, you know that I can spend hours online without gaining a single XP point. This is just how I am. So no, my characters did not get far and you need to keep this in mind, because while I think I can write down my impressions, they are, of course, limited to the bits I have seen.

The character creation was quite solid, but also mildly disappointing. While there are lots of options for your chin, nose, eyes, etc. there is no option to change your body height or size. If you are interested in Wildstar, you have probably read about that point before. It even led to Carbine reducing the breast size of the female characters, but they still all have an hourglass figure. And don’t worry, the breasts can still be seen without applying a magnifying glass! ;) I don’t mind the female body shapes per se, but I do mind not having a choice. This choice could be either being able to change the body shape a bit or having alternative races which feature a different body shape. In Wildstar’s case, this means Chua or male characters, as all the female characters have the hourglass figure.

Before I started playing, I had a look at the available races and while I prefered the story of the Exiles, I thought I’d actually want to play a Chua. The Chua are a “genderless race“, whatever that means. I had imagined it to mean that they are like asura (more in Guild Wars 1 than Guild Wars 2) where neither the “typical male” or “typical female” stereotypes apply (you know, breasts, beards, that sort of thing…). But apparently, Carbine meant “Lord of the Rings dwarves” where all Chua look more male than female (still no breasts, but lots of beards). I love the first, but not the latter. So, while I still liked the look of the Chua I created, I can’t think of him as being female.

My personal favourites are the Mordesh. They remind me a bit of the Undead from World of Warcraft or the Xadaganians from Allods Online. Unfortunately, while I like the Mordesh, I chose mine to be an engineer and I did not like that class. But more about this later.

One big thing was the housing. I only got to try it out during an earlier beta phase. I’m not going to get into any details here, because they made some changes and the points I would have criticized aren’t there anymore. Housing looks solid now and if you’re into this kind of thing, I’m pretty sure you will have fun! One great thing is that you do not just have a plot and place a house on there. You can get something out of it like buffs or rested XP. If you still prefer checking out housing before you buy the game for its housing, you can already find several videos (for example, here and here).

What I did not enjoy much was the questing and the combat. Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that this game also requires you to move and dodge. But the telegraph system always made me try to position myself according to the pixel bars in front of my character and I did not really pay attention to any of the combat animations. I only paid attention to where the bars on the floor were facing. Part of that was also because I did not like the engineer class much. I would have imagined it to be a very agile and mobile class, but compared to others I had tried, it seemed sluggish. I tried out the medic and enjoyed that one a lot more. The medic can both be a healer or a DPS class. It depends on which skills you are using, which stats you’re wearing with your equipment and so on. I liked the skills system, by the way. It reminded me a bit of Guild Wars 1 where you unlocked skills and then chose which ones you take with you to combat. The higher in level you get, the more skills you’re allowed to take with you to combat up to a total of 8 skills.

If you’re worried about playing with others in crowded starting areas when the game releases: It now features open tagging. So you can attack a mob that somebody else is already attacking. There is no need to be in a party with them, you will get your experience points, your loot and can even advance in your quest if the mob belonged to one. Speaking of quests, some are pretty standard “kill those mobs over there!”, but some are actually fun and entertaining. I think in general, it’s a nice mix. At least in the lower level regions.

As I mentioned above, I still did not like the quests too much. Instead of stating how many mobs you have to kill, you get a bar that fills up. It may sound like the same, but it’s actually different. A weaker mob does not let you progress as much as killing a stronger mob. So while similar, it still allows for a bit more freedom in choosing which mobs to hunt. What I did not like was the map design and with that, the lack of being able to navigate around easily. I was constantly trying to figure out where to go for each quest (yes, even after reading the quest text!). This was not as bad when I had just accepted two quests and did them. But after going out to explore the region, accepting a few quests here and there and then taking a break of a few days, I found it difficult to get back into the quests.

Another area where I think the game wins is the world design and possible exploration. I also loved all the weird animals. My personal favourite here is the “Jabbit”. As I just wrote, I did go on to explore the maps a bit and the things I found were quite often beautiful and in a few cases, surprising and made me laugh. I will not go into details, because I do not want to put spoilers in here with the exception of the video below. This is a challenge. A challenge is usually something time-limited. Up until that point, I had only had kill challenges. This one is different, though. It does not only show the quirky world, it also is a great example of how the music just fits perfectly to your environment.

The soundtrack in general is amazing. I do hope they will make it available for purchase somehow, because I would love to get my hands on it. As an example and to hear something less silly then the song in the challenge video above, you can listen to the character creation theme here.

In general, I’ve enjoyed my time in the beta, even though it was brief and I was lacking time (and sometimes, motivation). My main caveat is the character design as I would have loved to get more options and not knowing what awaits us at the endgame stage. We do know there will be raids, but I am not a raider. So the question is, how many other things will be available, how much fun it is, etc. At least, the game has lots of “fluff content” as I like to call things like housing and cosmetic items for your character to wear.

But with my lack of free time and two MMOs I’m already playing, this isn’t a question for me. As I said, it wouldn’t make any sense for me to play a game with a monthly fee. So, is this Wildstar’s fault? Only as far as the monthly sub requirement goes. The game itself, however, seems solid to me and I had a good time in the game.

Rift: Carnival companion picture gallery

The “Carnival of the Ascended” just went into its second week. This was originally meant to be the final week, but due to popular demand by players, Trion Worlds decided to extend the carnival by a week. This means that if you haven’t gotten enough prize tickets yet to get the rewards you want, there is still plenty of time left.

One Carnival Celebration Crate costs 150 prize tickets. If you do the weekly quest, which involves doing 50 carnival quests, you will get a crate as a reward. These crates can contain a companion. If you collect one of each kind, you will get Tito, another companion, as a reward. I initially didn’t want to complete the set, but then I got an item out of one of those crates which is worth quite a lot, so I could actually buy all the other companions of the auction house.

I find some of them plain ugly, to be honest. I like that not all companions in Rift are cute and cuddly, but that still doesn’t mean I’m a fan of such atrocities. ;) Anyway, I did not easily find pictures of some of them, so I didn’t know what I was getting until I had collected them and once you do that, they are bound to your character. Which is why I decided to make a screenshot gallery, in case others have the same issue and want to see what they are getting before buying or binding a companion.

Rift_Deadwater height

Deadwater at full height

I was most impressed with Deadwater. It does not look dead to me at all. ;) The pictures probably don’t do it enough justice. It really looks like it’s some kind of liquid form moving and morphing. Also, its height is very impressive, at least to a dwarf. However, there are also several other companions that I do not like at all. Coradus and Bubbles, for example. And some are what I would call cute, at least for Rift’s standards which does feature some very unique looking creatures. Fuzzworth most notably. And Lubbytubs looks like a big friendly puppy. It can also get on its hind legs!

The gallery is complete. All companions that you need for the achievement plus Tito which you get as a reward for having all the others are pictured below! A big thank you to bookahnerk who helped along the way.

Rift_Alfred

Alfred

Rift_Anuxy

Anuxy

Rift_Aschbacher

Aschbacher

Rift_Bubbles

Bubbles

Rift_Cliklik

Cliklik

Rift_Conflagurous

Conflagurous

Rift_Coradus

Coradus

Rift_Deadwater

Deadwater

Rift_Fuzzworth

Fuzzworth

Rift_Gusto

Gusto

Rift_Kepple

Kepple

Rift_Kipp

Kipp

Rift_Lubbytubs

Lubbytubs

Rift_Moonshadow

Moonshadow

Rift_Noms

Noms

Rift_Sola

Sola

Rift_The Tickle Monster

The Tickle Monster

Rift_Tito

Tito